Just like people, home furnishings have stories to tell. Each chair, credenza, and table lamp carries a history that deserves appreciation, even if it’s been long forgotten. This idea is one of the key concepts at the core of VLAB Design, an Italian furniture company created in 2008 by Francesco Iervolino and Valerio Rinaldi. They revive old, discarded objects and decor with innovative updates in a way that honors the product’s past.
VLAB restores aesthetic and functionality with their designs by establishing a continuous dialogue between the past and future. The success of each VLAB product is directly informed by its connection to its previous life, so Francesco and Valerio are careful that each object’s history is celebrated and not erased through the upcycling process.
At VLAB, a valorization is brought to every recovered sewing machine, wheat sieve, and wooden barrel, to create a new, one-of-a-kind design. As such, VLAB is also able to customize products for clients (depending on availability). In 2016, when Francesco and his wife, Luisa, opened a bed and breakfast in Valle D’Itria in Puglia, Italy, VLAB finally had the perfect way to showcase these designs and provide them with the exposure they deserve.
Francesco and Luisa stumbled across a cluster of trulli in the countryside of Apulian Itria Valley and were immediately seduced by its sunny, languid charm. The duo decided to share it with others as a luxury bed and breakfast, imbued with a sense of escape that still feels like home. Thus, Fikus was born, featuring three distinct experiences: Lamia 79, Trullo 19, and Lamia 84. The Fikus was also developed to double as a living showroom for VLAB, with its products dispersed throughout the interiors and available for purchase.
In Lamia 79, one of VLAB’s bedside tables, in particular, caught our eye. It’s an old suitcase with wooden legs attached its underside, transforming it from a trashed piece of luggage to a striking nightstand. The design is called Comodalì which is a play on the Italian word for table, "comodino."
Luisa explains that the inspiration for the room in which Comodali appears is travel, so the suitcase table concept was the perfect fit. She and Francesco are life-long world travelers who met in Brussels, so the room contains one item from every country they have visited. “We tried to use materials that recall a more rational and materic approach to styling and designing, more similar to the Nordic countries’ approach,” she says. “To style the room we used bare wood, cement and iron and we wanted to keep it minimalistic.”
Luisa and Francesco have expertly woven their passions for hospitality and design together with the crossover of Fikus and VLAB. The resulting combination is the perfect reciprocal relationship. Fikus is loaded with intriguing decor for guests to gawk over, engage with, and even purchase, while VLAB has the ideal place in which to display its work for all to appreciate.
To stay at the Fikus B&B properties, click here.
Photographs by Sofie Delauw